On Monday the Vancouver Canucks finished their search for a new head coach by naming Willie Desjardins to the post.
Desjardins coached the AHL's Texas Stars to the Calder Cup this season, helping to make him a hot candidate across the league despite having no prior NHL head-coaching experience at the age of 57. He replaces John Tortorella after his one calamitous season in Vancouver.
But just because he hasn't been an NHL head coach doesn't mean he's hurting for experience. He was an assistant with the Dallas Stars for some time and has been a coach in hockey for 29 years. This was a job a long time coming.
When the Canucks announced the hiring of Jim Benning as the new GM, his first task was to find a new coach to run the show. Initial speculation had the Canucks interested in Barry Trotz but that quickly disappeared when he was hired in Washington. After that Desjardins quickly became the speculative favorite to land the job.
The belief is that Benning ended up convincing Desjardins to take the job in Vancouver over Pittsburgh, where he was believed to be their man as well.
It's an interesting spot he's walking into for his first job. The Canucks are coming off a terribly disappointing season and with a veteran group, it doesn't seem like the future is all that bright right now. But the Canucks also are a team that could be primed for a bounceback after what can be described as an unlucky season; it was as if everything conspired against them. It's up to Desjardins to help make sure it's the latter and not the former.
As to the style of play the Canucks will have under Desjardins, well it's about what you'd expect to hear. It's not about the X's and O's but the mind set as much as anything else.
"I want us to play hard every night, I want us to play hard every shift," Desjardins said Sunday. "Every time we play, we play to win; we go out, we're looking for a way and maybe it has to be a little different every night, the opposition is different, but we'll have an underlying theme that we're here to play, we're here to win and that's how we're going to approach every game."